According to science
We’re all guilty of keeping the occasional secret. Be it a little white lie we’ve told our other half (though after finding out the shocking method most couples use to spy on one another you may want to re-think exactly what you keep from your partner), or a secret a friend has confessed in their deepest darkest hour.
However, there are of course occasions when we slip up and let our secrets out the bag – apparently this is the reason so many of us share our secrets after sex as well.
But just how many secrets is it possible for one human to actually keep?
A team of researchers decided to investigate by collating 13,000 real life secrets (seriously) that had previously been recorded across 10 earlier studies in order to discover which ones we’re most likely to keep locked away.
In order to do this, Michael Slepian and his team broke the secrets down into 38 common categories, these ranged from cheating on a partner to a secret hobby and even theft. They then asked 2,000 new participants if they were currently keeping any secrets that fell under these categories.
Participants were found to be keeping 13 to 38 of the common secrets, and had never shared an average of five with another soul. Most common amongst these ‘super secrets’ were secrets involving romantic desires, sexual behaviour and outright lies they had told.
As well as find out just how many secrets the average person is able to keep, the study (which was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology) looked into the impact keeping secrets has on the way we behave. The study found that when keeping a secret we’re much more likely to fret over the secret we are concealing when alone, rather than when in social interactions.
‘People have this curious way of talking about secrets as laying them down or unburdening them,’ Michael Slepian told The Atlantic.
‘We found that when people were thinking about their secrets, they actually acted as if they were burdened by physical weight. It seems to have this powerful effect even when they’re not hiding a secret in the moment.’
So, how many secrets are you keeping?